HELSINKI – 100 years:

Parliament House, National Museum, Music Centre, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

ARCHITECTURE – Alvar Aalto sites to visit

Finlandia Hall     

Designed in 1962, the congress and concert hall was part of Aalto’s big scheme for the centre of Helsinki with several cultural buildings. It was extended in 1975. The marble exterior is a reminder of Aalto’s lifelong attachment to Mediterranean cultures.

Savoy Restaurant by Alvar Aalto

Savoy Restaurant     

A traditional restaurant for dfine dining and beautiful views over the Esplanadi Park and Helsinki rooftops. The interiors by Alvar Aalto and original details have been beautifully preserved.

Akateeminen bookshop     

This marble-clad store on three floors was completed in 1969. Sculptural skylights create a serene atmosphere for browsing the largest selection of books in Scandinavia. Café Aalto on the second floor is a classic meeting place.


House of Culture

The undulating facade has been created with a special wedge shaped brick. Originally commissioned by the Communist Party, the building has been functioning as a conference and concert hall since 1958, hosting international stars from Ella Fitzgerald and  Jimi Hendrix to Lady Gaga.


Studio Aalto

Considered as one of Aalto’s masterworks from the 1950s, the office building shows great spatial harmony and has been designed to respond to natural light and its geographic location. Aalto worked in these organically conceived spaces from 1955 until his death in 1976.


Office building by the Kamppi shopping centre with a covered patio courtyard and a branch of Robert’s Café. A calm environment in the heart of the city.

 Robert’s Coffee


The Aalto House

This single-family house with office space in the Munkkiniemi district, was designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto and completed in 1936. The house is one of the earliest examples of Scandinavian modernist residential architecture and is open for the public. Alvar Aalto lived in this building with his family until 1976.

Alvar Aalto arcjitecture, KELA office, Helsinki

National Pensions Institute

Still functioning as the office building it was designed for. It was completed in 1956, introducing red brick in modern architecture, copper trimmed horizontal windows and vertical ceramic details inside.

Can be visited on guided tours.


Rautatalo office building, located in the same block as Akateeminen, has a marble clad  inner courtyard echoing the bookstore interior. A buffet lunch restaurant and café has reopened within the plaza, lit by circular skylights. 

Dylan Marmoripiha



Map – Aalto sites

ARCHITECTURE – sacred spaces

Temppeliaukio Church

Also known as the Rock Church, this exceptional example of 1960s architecture has become one of the city’s most visited tourist attractions. Resembling a prehistoric monument from the exterior, topped with a futuristic domed ceiling, the unassuming facade belies an elegant space that rejects all classical ideas of Western religious architecture. Designed by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, the form is said to evoke the rugged landscape of the Suursaari island in the Baltic Sea, where they grew up.

Lutherinkatu 3

00100 Helsinki

Chapel of Silence

Located near the central Kamppi shopping centre and a major public transport hub, the chapel invites passers-by to drop in for a moment of seclusion during their commute and shopping. The wooden chapel creates a stark contrast in the urban grid with its oval silhouette. It is virtually impossible not to stop by this peculiar windowless object, and look for its entrance.

Designed by the Finnish K2S Architects and opened in 2012, the chapel boasts a unique social interface. The architecture is equally innovative. Parametric software was used to define the curved shape and the high level of precision in the wooden cladding was achieved by CNC-technology. As a whole, the chapel demonstrates a new wave of Finnish expertise in digital design, fabrication and wooden tectonics.

Simonkatu 7

00100 Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki
Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki

Uspenski Cathedral

Overlooking the South Harbour, the Orthodox Cathedral was built in 1868, when Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian empire. The architecture exemplifies Byzantine-Russian traditions with golden cupolas symbolizing the Holy Spirit . Behind the red brick façade the Byzantine legacy is notable in the compact interior plan and exquisite oriental-style ornaments. The central dome is supported by four massive pillars of local granite. Services held on Saturdays and Sundays are open to everyone. 

Kanavakatu 1

00160 Helsinki



A short stroll from the centre, in front of Kaivopuisto Park, this smart cafe designed by Helin Architects is always busy in sunny weather. There’s a good selection of cava and champagne; tapas style snacks, sandwiches and pastries are also served.

Ehrenströmintie 3 A, 00140 Helsinki

+358 45 1196631



In the Hernesaari district, this café-bar has become one of the most popular spots for drinks and casual meals in southern Helsinki during summer. Designed by Talli Architects like a contemporary seaside cabin with an open plan and a large terrace.

Hernesaarenranta 2, 00150 Helsinki

+358 40 5474966


A great example of latest trends in timber architecture, Löyly is a stylish and popular sauna (wood-burning), a restaurant, terrace and a rooftop bar. Designed by Avanto Architects, it’s a seafront destination and meeting place open all year round. 

Hernesaarenranta 4

00150 Helsinki

+358 9 61286550


Regatta Café

A small cottage by the Sibelius memorial monument in Töölö, Regatta is folksy and cosy. Locals come for cinnamon buns, Carelian pies and coffee. Also an open fire to make the most of the long summer nights, and boat-kayak rental next door.

Merikannontie 8, 00260 Helsinki

+358 40 0760049

Map – waterfront cafés